Ativan and Valium both belong to the class of drugs called benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines generally share the same properties, such as anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, skeletal muscle relaxant, amnesic and anticonvulsant with slight variations in potency and effects.
Ativan is short to intermediate acting. It is more likely to cause more rebound anxiety effect & withdrawal reactions. It is a better sedative/hypnotic and preferred over long acting in elderly & in patients with liver disorders.
Valium is long acting and has less rebound symptoms and is a better choice when tapering off of BZDs.
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